Pride of the Tide carries on tradition

Published 7:00 am Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Pride of the Tide is a dance organization that has been around for almost 40 years.

Originally a stand-alone organization at Picayune Memorial High School, the group has now formed a cohesive unit with the band and color guard to create a large group capable of performing together.

The Pride of the Tide was founded back in 1981 when Gail Mitchell and Gerry Samples wanted to give girls who weren’t athletes or musicians another opportunity to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

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“Gail and I had been talking about it for years,” Samples said. “And we make a really good team. My inadequacies she fulfills and it was fun besides the fact that we loved the program.”

The dynamic duo didn’t need to do much convincing of the administration to get the program up and running.

Once it was founded, Mitchell and Samples held a series of tryouts. After the roster was set, it was time to get to work and start perfecting the necessary routines. Mitchell and Samples both had ample dance experience before founding Pride of the Tide, since both women participated in band and dance programs in high school and college.

While organizing the program, they received full support from the District’s administrators and community members.

“The need for the program, and the desire for the program was shared by a lot of people,” Samples said.

“Gail and I both had background, and the superintendent knew that.”

Years later, being a part of Pride of the Tide is still not easy; the athletes have to work extremely hard to perfect their routines.

“They have to work not only at school, but also at home,” Mitchell said.

“They have goals they have to meet every week, even more so than what we required.”

An aspect of the dance team that both Samples and Mitchell enjoy is the camaraderie and acceptance within the program.

During their time at Picayune Memorial High School, not only were they teachers and directors, they also served other roles as well for the athletes they mentored.

“It’s like being a second mother,” Mitchell said.

“And we’re still in touch with alumni,” Samples said.

The impact Samples and Mitchell has had on the young women who have gone through their programs can’t be overstated.

The positive experiences athletes have during their time in the program has led to them seeking ways to positively impact other young women in the area.

“We have a bunch of alumni who have started other programs,” Samples said.

“One of our students started the PRC Blue Angels.”

The legacy and tradition these two women left on the program they founded nearly 40 years ago are present today in Pride of the Tide.

Whether it is a specific shade of lipstick the girls use, or the types of boots they wear, they are marks Mitchell and Samples made on the program and numerous young women.

“Gail has affected all of these young women from the beginning just because of her personality and her association with them,” Samples said.

“And they continue to love her.”